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Pirates look for home edge in CVC play
Home, sweet home.
That cliche will be on the minds of most of the Porterville College women’s basketball team as they prepare for tonight’s home-opener against Taft at 5 p.m.
After 16 games on the road this winter, who wouldn’t want a place to come in, hang up the jacket, kick off the shoes and enjoy a little home cooking?
And the Pirates, 3-13, could use some as much as anybody.
“Hopefully, we shoot better at home than we do on the road,” Porterville coach Dave Kavern said.
For the height-challenged Pirates, the sometimes fickle art of shooting becomes that much more important.
So far, PC is shooting just 34 percent from the field this season, though a large part of that is due to a third of their shots coming from beyond the arc at a 23 percent clip.
Since the shorter Pirates are forced to shoot outside, inconsistency builds along with Kavern’s frustration.
“You never know who’s going to show up,” Kavern said. “It’s sort of a mix and match game to see who’s on and who’s off that night.”
Fortunately for the Pirates, Porterville High graduate and reigning EYL MVP Alex Shew is on more often than not.
The first-year Pirate elected to stay close to home despite chances to play for larger programs and is making an immediate impact with 18.2 points per game.
“Athletically, Alex is probably one of the best in the (Central Valley Conference),” Kavern said. “(Before the season) I thought she was capable of doing exactly what she’s doing right now.”
As a Panther, Shew had little trouble getting to the rim and rarely attempted a 3-pointer.
In college, however, Kavern has asked her to expand her repertoire.
“She’s worked hard on going left,” Kavern said. “At the high school level, she was just so quick she could go by everybody even though they knew she was going right. Now, there are kids who are quicker than her. If she wants to dominate, she has to be able to hit the outside shot.”
That’s still a work in progress as Shew has attempted 50 3-pointers, hitting just nine.
But Kavern pointed out her ability to draw free throws is among the best in the game. The freshman has attempted a team-high 88 free throws, nailing 60.
Shew is also second in rebounds (4.9) and barely edges former Panthers teammate Stevee Thomas in assists (1.8).
“Alex is our go-to person,” point guard Quaraya Fuston said. “If she’s open, I’m giving her the ball.
“I was happy when I found out (Shew and Thomas) were coming here. I’m glad to play with good people who know how to play the game.”
Kavern praised Fuston’s play as well, saying that his sophomore general will often guard the opponent’s best player.
As one of four returning sophomores, Fuston has stepped her game up in scoring (7.7) and assists (3.1).
Crystal Bueno (5.1 points per game), Kalyn Reed (4.9) and Lisa Lopez (3.2) are the other sophomore captains.
Bueno, Fuston, Shew are currently starting along with 5-foot-10 Las Vegas-native Kee’Maya Snowden and Thomas, who converted from point guard to shooting guard to give Kavern two ball-handlers on the floor at once.
“It gets tiring sometimes, so it’s nice to know (Thomas) can handle the ball,” Fuston said.
Thomas is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 5.6 points behind Snowden’s 6.5.
Reed and 6-foot freshman Shannon Dez, out of New Mexico, are first off the bench, but Kavern likes the potential of freshman guard Lupe Luna as a breakout player to watch for.
“She’s not flashy, but she’s stable,” Kavern said of Luna. “She’ll come in and give us three or four rebounds and raises the level and it doesn’t hurt us.”
Fuston says that while the Pirates aren’t quite on the same page yet, she can see the light at the end of the tunnel — especially after PC took out favored rivals College of the Sequoias last Wednesday on the road.
“We’re just forgetting the whole preseason,” she said. “Anything can happen.”
2009-10 Porterville College Glance
Last season’s record: 11-19 (3-7 Central Valley Conf.)
2009 preseason record: 3-13
Head coach: Dave Kavern (9th year)
Roster: Pos. Height Class
10 - Tyra Warden G 5-7 FR
12 - Quaraya Fuston G 5-3 SO
14 - Ana Barogga G 5-3 FR
15 - Crystal Bueno F 5-7 SO
20 - Tanzania Dunn F 5-11 FR
21 - Shannon Dez F 5-11 FR
23 - Stevee Thomas G 5-4 FR
24 - Kee’Maya Snowden F 5-10 FR
30 - Kalyn Reed G 5-7 SO
32 - Lupe Luna G 5-7 FR
34 - Lisa Lopez G 5-3 SO
40 - Alex Shew G 5-8 FR